I hope you’ll have been aware that Jimmy, our curate, has been leading a series of evenings in Casa Vitae café under the general title of “A Conversation about Faith”. Each evening a different issue has been discussed, and people are drawn into conversation about faith and Christian faith in particular. They have gone very well.
Good conversations happen when someone speaks and someone else listens before responding. When someone listens carefully to us, without judgement, trying to understand ‘where we are coming from’ it is a lovely thing. It’s very different when someone is just waiting for you to finish (or sometimes not even waiting for you to finish!) so they can have their say.
Good conversations take us out of ourselves and into someone else’s shoes. They help us see things from another perspective. They broaden our understanding. Sometimes they make us change our minds, or face our prejudice which we can then begin to unlearn.
Good listening is always a costly business. It can have surprising results. We can go into a conversation fairly sure of our ground and find it taken from under us. But that is the way to growth in maturity and wisdom.
It’s just as true when faith is part of the conversation. Good listening to someone, irrelevant of their beliefs, does two things. It opens up the possibility of us learning something. And it opens up the possibility of being able to share something that is relevant to the person’s thoughts and experience. We might say it can be incarnational – through careful listening, the Word takes flesh and comes alive in the midst of that person’s life.
But our conversations are never just us and the person we are talking to. God is always there, loving us both. Ready to teach us, or speak through us. So we listen for his prompting. Not just in conversations about faith but in all our relationships, in all our conversations. The risen Lord is always present by his Spirit. Thank God for Pentecost.